Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Information

UAS Activities at NC State

Unmanned Aerial Systems, also referred to as drones, offer great potential as tools for research and teaching. NC State regulation 10.10.09, Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems establishes a framework for identifying, managing, and mitigating risk when using UAS, in order to ensure compliance with all State and Federal laws and regulations, and in furtherance of NC State’s institutional goals and objectives.

We have adopted the UAS Pilot’s Code (UASPC) developed by the Permanent Editorial Board of the Aviators Code Initiative and University Aviation Association, including the seven principles and recommended practices. Each pilot will self-certify to the UASPC upon submission of the Drone Pilot Registration Request form. 

For more information on NC State’s requirements and procedures for operating UAS, as well as some helpful tips, see NC State Requirements & Tips document.

General Rule

No individual shall operate a UAS on, in or over any university premises without permission.

Approvals for UAS Activities

University UAS Operations

NC State Departments and Units may conduct UAS operations in compliance with NC State regulation 10.10.09, Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, applicable laws, and the requirements below.  All NC State Departments and Units must provide the required notification before conducting UAS operations.  

Commercial Photography or Filming

Individuals or companies desiring to operate UAS on university premises for commercial photography or filming purposes must contact University Communications and obtain approval prior to conducting any flights.

Hobby or Recreational Use

The Recreational UAS Safety Test, known simply as TRUST, is now required by the FAA for U.S recreational flyers of drones. The test consists of a free online training and multiple-choice knowledge check, takes about 30 minutes to complete, and everyone passes! This test is only mandatory for those flying under recreational rules and regulations.

Persons who wish to operate UAS on university premises for hobby or recreational purposes must fill out this Drone Pilot Registration Request form and are ONLY permitted to fly at the Upper Centennial Recreational Field located at Main Campus Drive and Achievement Drive

UAS use is only permitted when the field has no other informal or formal ongoing recreational activities. Wellness and Recreation and the University reserves the right to terminate your UAS permission or operations at any time.

Once the registration request form has been received and processed the recreational pilot will receive further instructions to provide information about their flight intentions. This will be reviewed and follow up provided regarding approval or not.

All hobby or recreational pilots must abide by all Federal laws and in particular those set forth by the FAA. Following these rules will keep you and your UAS safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.

FAA Certified Pilot Requirements

Individuals serving as pilots of UAS operating on NC State University premises must meet the following requirements:

  • Registration as a University UAS Pilot at Drone Pilot Registration Request Form.
  • Obtained a Remote Pilot Certificate and Fed Airmen Certification number.
  • Passed the NC UAS knowledge test and obtained NC UAS Operator Permit (either commercial or governmental).
  • Have at least five (5) hours of UAS flight experience.
  • If an NC State employee, and flying on behalf of a NC State Department or Unit, approval by the Vice Chancellor or Dean having supervisory authority over the Department or Unit to serve as a University UAS Pilot.

Required Notification for All UAS Flights

Because of the potential legal and risk management issues involved in operating UAS, a written summary of the proposed activities (aka flight plan) must be submitted at least three (3) days prior to the date of the first intended use or, if three days is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable before conducting activity.

Once a certified pilot is registered with the university, they will have access to our management system to submit flight requests. This is required regardless of university affiliation. 

A flight plan must be filed for every flight on property owned, leased, operated, or controlled by NC State.  This includes flights on campus, Lake Wheeler, research stations, and at other county locations.  In addition to submitting the flight plan online, individuals or entities conducting UAS activities must provide advance notification to the responsible NC State administrator for the location where the activities will occur. 

Upon submission and review, you will be notified if your proposed activities are approved or denied. You will receive email confirmation and we recommend that you keep this for your records and have it available during your flight with other documents like your FAA certification. 

If there are any concerns or issues about the proposed UAS activities, you will be contacted by the appropriate NC State University unit (such as Risk Management, Police, Office of Research and Innovation, or University Communications) for further discussion.  All activities must be conducted in compliance with Federal and State laws, and applicable University policies.

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and the Vice Chancellor for Information Technology have joint oversight of all operations of UAS for university activities.

UAS Insurance

NC State Departments and Units must obtain UAS insurance for its UAS that would cover the Department or Unit’s proposed activity.  Departments and Units should contact NC State’s Insurance and Risk Management Office in order to obtain this insurance.

Outside groups and individuals are encouraged to have insurance to cover any damage and/or injury that may occur during UAS operations. In addition, if using UAS for commercial photography or filming purposes on campus, outside groups and individuals will be required to maintain UAS insurance.

Advisory Group 

The Advisory Group is responsible for reviewing and recommending rules, procedures and standards for UAS operations. The group will advise the Vice Chancellor Information Technology and the Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation on university UAS activities. The UAS Advisory Group consists of representatives from at least the College of Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University Police, Institute for Transportation Research and Education, University Communications, Division of Academic and Student Affairs and the Director of Insurance and Risk Management. 

Additional Resources 

NC State Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Resources


Drone pictire
Drone Picture in Field


For questions or help

Justine Hollingshead, Assistant Vice Chancellor DASA

Email: jrhollin@ncsu.edu

Shawn Troxler, Office of General Counsel

Email: sctroxle@ncsu.edu

Marc Hoit, Vice Chancellor for IT

Email: mihoit@ncsu.edu


Updated November 29, 2021